West Ham must axe this under-performing star if they want to beat Man City
COMMENT By Matt Farr
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has a problem on his hands, a familiar feeling in what has been a below-par campaign to date.
However, this time it is not about poor form, or his future as West Ham manager. No, his problem is Dimitri Payet.
The 29-year-old has looked horribly out of sorts this season, and as the season progresses, has looked less and less interested at fighting West Ham’s corner.
The simple solution for a player with Payet’s current attitude is to drop him from the first-team. However, the issue Bilic will have in any potential decision is that Payet is West Ham’s most creative player.
From 21 appearances in all competitions this season, the France international has contributed three goals and eight assists; not bad for a player that doesn’t seem to care, but it does not hide the fact that axing him would be a big call.
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You could argue that dropping Payet from the side to face Manchester City is a stupid decision, because regardless of their defensive woes that have haunted Pep Guardiola’s side this season, they are still one of the best teams in England; and to beat the best, you also need to be at your best.
Payet could no doubt find a loophole in City’s defensive gameplan, which could help the Hammers on their way to victory, however, dropping him would be a major statement of intent that tells Payet that it’s not just about performance. Attitude plays a major part too.
His heart simply isn’t with the club. It doesn’t help that the transfer window is now open, and a host of clubs are interested in his services. But if he’s not 100% dedicated to the West Ham cause, he shouldn’t be part of it.
That’s not necessarily a reason to sell him, though it is an option, and they’d make a healthy profit from his sale. It’s a risky strategy, but a brief spell on the sidelines would show him he’s not indispensable, and needs to show more fight.
Bilic does have other creative players in his squad, including Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, and the absence of Payet could spur them on to improve their own games. Antonio is already playing a starring role in front of goal, but he has often found himself on the end of chances this season rather than creating them.
Manuel Lanzini, meanwhile, has not yet registered an assist this season, having played as many as 20 appearances in all competitions. He has been good, but he could be a lot better.
Bilic has admitted he will be taking the FA Cup seriously, and will want to do well against Man City. To do that, he will need a team that is fully committed, one that is 100% dedicated to the West Ham cause. Dimitri Payet simply isn’t one of them.
West Ham meet Manchester City in their FA Cup third round clash on Friday evening.
In other West Ham news, this is how the Hammers are expected to line up against City.